POLITICS

The Productivity Commission Hates Geoblocking As Much As The Rest Of Us

More Netflix and chill, please.

20/12/2016 3:34 PM AEDT | Updated 20/12/2016 4:08 PM AEDT

CANBERRA -- Want better and cheaper online access to the world's television and movies? You are not certainly alone. And the Productivity Commission has just backed you.

In its final report on Australia's intellectual property system, the Commission has instructed the Turnbull Government to make it easier for users to access legitimate content and asked it to make clear that trying to get around blocked overseas content is not an infringement of copyright.

You can find the report here.

The Commission is critical of what is known as "geoblocking," a practice of blocking overseas content favoured by media streaming outlets. It is also used by online retailers to charge Australians more for products that are cheaper in other countries, usually the United States.

The practice is "pervasive" for online streaming according to the Commission and it said it frequently results in Australian consumers being offered a lower level of digital service (such as a more limited music or TV streaming catalogue) at a higher price than in overseas markets.

The Commission has recommended the government make clear that it is "not an infringement of Australia's copyright system" for consumers to circumvent geoblocking technology, like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and should "avoid international obligations that would preclude such practices".

The report also recommends that the market for books follow the path of recorded music in the 1990s and be completely opened up to competition from overseas.

The Productivity Commission's final report is now open for public consultation, with the Federal Government expected to deliver a response to its recommendations and prepare legislation in mid-2017.

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